Maria is a young and unmarried lawyer with her own office. Despite being the target of sexist jokes of her colleagues at court she is known and halfheartedly respected for being eager and correct. Like the talented but weak painter Uwe and the archeologist Dr. Bergius, she is the protegé of Baron Friedberg. Maria marries Uwe, who lives from then on neglected by the ambitious lawyer as her painting pet, while the rather spoiled daughter of the Baron, Irene Friedberg marries the archeologist Berguis who turns out to neglect her all the same. One day Uwe and Irene meet each other on the train station after waving goodbye their partners and spend a romantic day (& night) together. Years later, Irene has given birth to a son in the meantime, her predictable divorce from mean Dr. Bergius takes a dramatic turn, and she kills her husband during a fight. Maria takes over her defence and the trial brings up all the painful secrets of the past.
Though the first half is a bit stiff mainly due to a in my opinion rather unconvincing performance of Kirsten Heiberg and Peter Widmann the film is worth watching mainly for Lotte Koch's part (especially her plea at the end, which opens up quite a complex system of loyalties) which represents the female lead as an unusually self-controlled and independent character for a film from 1944. Unlike other efforts of that time, where the independence of women is shown but eventually punished and ends with a step back in line (see: Das Fremde Leben for example), in this film, the heroine overcomes the tremendous problems her independence and the weakness of her lover causes and integrates them into her (future) freedom without remorse. A stunning piece of film in this regard and a bit difficult to digest, as most of this happens in a NS-court, with lawyers and judges wearing the swastika on their sleeves and hats. The final plea of course takes a little detour and addresses the natural healing powers of motherhood, but at the same time "betrays" them in the identification figure of the leading female, that does not seem to give up her career for motherhood in the end (at least as I understand the finale).